1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
mtn. biking 101
2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    Bike for Daughter

    I've been hunting for a replacement bike for my daughter for weeks.

    She's getting ready to start intermediate school (11 years old) and will be riding her bike to school.

    She's also been getting more proficient and taking a greater interest in longer rides and I think might be ready for some light trail riding.

    Up until now I've had her on the dreaded store bikes... Walmart, Toys-R-Us, etc. But I really want to get her on something lighter and better built.

    We started shopping at Walmart just to get an idea of what size she was ready for. She's on a 20" now and best I could judge at the store was she looked like she was ready for a 24" now. Of course after looking for a few minutes it was obvious Walmart wasn't going to have anything acceptable.

    One day we were in the neighborhood of a bike shop I've done lost of business with over the years. Thinking I knew better I tried to blow off the sales guy (I hates sales guys) and look at the 24" bikes... As it became obvious I didn't know where things were said sales guy pushes in. He recommends a 26" I was sure she wasn't ready for one but he is able to talk us in to test riding a Trek Skye. This bike was light and pretty well built and my daughter seemed to fit it pretty well. But then came the price. $400.

    Holy crap I wasn't expecting to pay quite that much for a kids bike. It's not that I don't think the bike is worth it. It's that I don't want to buy a $400 bike for a kid who's not going to take care of it the way I do for my bikes, and that the chances of it being stolen from the school, a friends house, or other location are greater than the kinds of places I might have my bikes.

    Are there more appropriate options? I dug around at other online bike shops and girls bikes of this size seem to be rare. Because of her size and shape she really is limited to a 13" Woman's framed 26" bike, or a 24" unisex bike.

  2. #2
    What could go wrong ...
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    have you considered buying her a used bike ... less cost and not a big loss if it gets stolen
    I used to ride to Win ... Now I ride to Grin

    While my guitar gently weeps, my bike sits there mocking me

  3. #3
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    Yes it would be my preferred method. But I've been watching Craigslist for weeks. Nothing but large old cruiser bikes, or Huffy garbage seems to ever be listed.

  4. #4
    R.I.P. DogFriend
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    Get a cheap beater for riding to school, and tyhen if she wants to ride with you, you can get her something nicer that won't sit out and vulnerable while she is in school. She would be heartbroken if she gets a nice bike stolen at school.

    The trick to a school bike is to make it look heinous, but ride and functions nicely.

    My daughter's favorite school bike was one she found buried in the sand and surf at the beach. She dug it out and went through it to make it ride nice, but left the natural patina to make it unattractive to thieves. You can lock bikes like that with a $10 u-lock and not worry about them. JMHO.

    Shiny new bikes left unattended (locked or not) attract thieves and vandals like moths to a flame.

  5. #5
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    I got my daughter a Marin Bayview Trail. Hardtail with a reasonable fork, nice frame and good handling, reasonably light. Bought used for $100 still had nubs on tires. 24" wheels.
    The Scott race bike 24" is better but harder to find and $$. also more likely to get ripped.


  6. #6
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    I guess I'll have to refine my Craigslist feed. I'm not seeing jack on there, but as several of you suggest it's really the way I'd rather go at this point.

  7. #7
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    I guess it may depend where you are. Ebay on higher end possibility too but shipping is significant.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by matt5150 View Post
    I guess I'll have to refine my Craigslist feed. I'm not seeing jack on there, but as several of you suggest it's really the way I'd rather go at this point.
    Before you buy it make sure SHE likes it.

  9. #9
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    She'll get what she gets and like it!

  10. #10
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    Since she can ride 26- go back to Walmart and check out the $88 black v-brake bike. 8 insurance gives no questions return for 1 year.
    Keep looking for used.

  11. #11
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    My son has a Marin Bayview Trail 24" and it has been a really good bike for him to learn singletrack riding on.

    If she needs a small 26" and you don't see one on Craigslist, here are some options:

    GT Avalanche with Free Shipping (Note that BikeIsland is where BikesDirect.com sells bikes that have had minor scuffs from shipping, etc. -- looks like this is new with a scuffed fork). As I believe there's only one offered at this price, you should probably act fast if you want it (seems a good deal to me).

    Motobecane 300HT Specific for women

    GT Laguna Women's Mountain Bike

    MARIN Women's Coast Trail (not really cheaper than Trek Skye, but slightly better fork/shifters/derailers)

    O.k., and this is a little more than the Skye, but has low-end disc brakes (but at least with disc ready wheels you could upgrade to BB-7s fairly cheaply if needed) and no sales tax outside of Texas:
    GT Avalance Disc for Women

    Hope this helps!
    I ride at night - see my tips for Night Cycling
    My Blog: Cycling For Beginners

  12. #12
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    Thanks guys. That pink one would have been perfect but I had to have the one 11 year old in the world that hates pink.

    Still on the hunt!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by matt5150 View Post
    Thanks guys. That pink one would have been perfect but I had to have the one 11 year old in the world that hates pink.

    Still on the hunt!
    Paint it? A bad rattle can paint job might make it less desirable to thieves.

    I was in the same dilemma last year. Luckily my 11 year old is tall for her age. I found a 2005 Stumpjumper in 15" that had been upgraded to an XT/XTR drivetrain for $300 off CL. Even had a well taken care of Duke fork and Mavic wheelset. It fits her well enough with a short stem and gives us some growing room. Standover is about as high as she would want but works. My wife is shorter (5'2") and rides a 13" Specialized Myka (26" wheels) that she really likes, another one to look for used.

    Not to hijack the thread but it may help with the OP securing his daughter's bike as well.... My daughter is close enough to her school that they won't be providing bus service so she is walking or riding her bike as well. What is the best way to secure the bike? U-locks seem to be preferred but the wheels have QRs and can be removed no problem. A chain/cable type lock that is long enough to reach both wheels would be bulky and a lot to carry. What to do about the wheels? For all the removable components I was thinking of finding center rejection Allen head screws. We use them at work for equipment we sell to prisons, they are easy enough to source and should make a decent deterrent. What else can we do besides making it look like a heap?

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